The University of Massachusetts Boston strengthened its commitment to elite STEM education, cementing a multimillion-dollar partnership with an Indian technology firm to train science teachers in Boston and New York City.
Chancellor J. Keith Motley signed the Wipro Science Education Fellowship Agreement with Anurag Behar, chief sustainability officer for Wipro Ltd., during an August 29 ceremony.
Over the next three years, administrators of the new program will choose 120 teachers in kindergarten through Grade 12 to become “science education fellows.” The teachers will be asked to work closely with colleagues and integrate their lessons.
“You will have better communication across all the science disciplines in those schools,” said Arthur Eisenkraft, distinguished professor of science education and director of the UMass Boston Center of Science and Math in Context (COSMIC). “The biology teachers will be speaking to the chemistry teachers.”
The collaboration will also reach across grade levels, Eisenkraft said.
“So the third-grade teachers will know what the students will be learning in eighth grade and eleventh grade, and the eleventh-grade teachers will know what experiences the fifth-grade students had when they were in fifth grade, in order to help them better learn and see the uniformity of the sciences.”
Teachers selected for the program will pledge 250 hours over one year for professional development and group work with their cohort; in exchange, each will receive a $10,000 stipend.
Eisenkraft will lead the UMass Boston team, along with COSMIC’s assistant director, Allison Scheff. UMass Boston will collaborate locally with Pamela Pelletier, science program director for Boston Public Schools, and will partner with a university counterpart in New York City.
Teachers will be selected from school districts in Boston and New York, with a focus on educators in areas with many low-income students, and those from underrepresented populations.
COSMIC is already engaged in similar initiatives locally as part of the Boston Science Partnership, which also includes Boston Public Schools and Northeastern University.
Chancellor Motley praised the agreement and lauded Eisenkraft, whom he called a “giant” of teaching.
“I’m excited to discover what he will do with this opportunity,” Motley said. “Those who will be trained by this program will have the impact on hundreds and hundreds of students as they go on to teach in their careers.”
The link between school and company was first made by UMass Boston Distinguished Professor of Biology Kamal Bawa, who introduced Eisenkraft to Behar.
Behar said the program is emblematic of Wipro’s commitment to the communities it serves.
“Businesses cannot have a narrow focus only on making money,” Behar told the audience. “Businesses, whether they recognize it or not, they have a wider social responsibility.”